Anthony: Hello and welcome to Capes on the Couch. Wes, get Counseling. I’m Anthony Sitco,
Doc Issues: and I am Dr. Issues.
Anthony: This is Issue 161 and our president level patron. Janine has selected Poison Ivy, a fascinating character and one of the most enduring and famous members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery.
And to help us talk about Poison Ivy, we have brought on a special guest Sarah Boyadjis who happens to be my wife’s cousin. And a licensed therapist as well. So Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us tonight.
Sara Boyadjis: Yeah, definitely. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Anthony: Yeah. So before we get started into poison Ivy a little bit, why don’t you just give us your background and what your credentials are other than your my wife’s cousin. I
Sara Boyadjis: mean, I think that that’s enough. But
Anthony: well, that’s why you’re here on the show. But that, that, that gets you in the door .
Sara Boyadjis: But as you said, I am a licensed mental health professional.
I currently am working at a non-profit agency and I specialize mostly with postpartum and pregnant women and their families. So I do a lot of family counseling, couples counseling, as well as individual counseling. With the wide spectrum. I also work with kids. But yeah, that’s kinda my specialty.
Anthony: Cover it all.
Sara Boyadjis: I try to.
Anthony: Excellent. Excellent. Well, we’re very glad to have you here. I know we were talking about this, we’ve mentioned this during the, the tailgating for a Giants Panthers game is how this all kind of got started. And the Giants went on to win that. As they have The last two times that I have been to a game, I was telling Sarah beforehand that she and her girlfriend are bad luck because before this I was going to games, I was going to Giants, Panthers games with my, my in-laws who were all Giants fans and the Panthers were winning all the games that we went to.
And then Sarah Ga showed up and then the past two games, it’s been the two of them, they’ve been there and the Giants have won those games, so Yay. I was gonna say, I know that Make Doc, that that pleases doc, but it does not please me. Yeah, he’s got the Giants Giants chair.
Sara Boyadjis: We love it.
Anthony: You’d love to see it.
I don’t . We are not here to talk about football, though. We are here to talk about poison ivy. So let’s get into the background.
Poison Ivy, Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, created by Robert Kager and Carmine Infantino in Batman 181 from June of 1966. So originally she was a botanist who was poisoned to prevent her from implicating a colleague in a theft. She survived the poisoning and learned that she was immune to any and all toxins.
And then she attacked a Gotham to prove that she was the greatest female super villain ever. So it was kind of, I don’t wanna say trite or OneNote, but she was a very flat character. Pre-crisis. Then crisis on Infinite Earths happened 1986, and. Obviously that leads to the entire rebooting of the DC universe and post-crisis.
She gets completely reimagined by the fantastic Neil Gaman. So Pamela Isley was mentored in biochemistry by Dr. Jason Woodrow, who becomes flu man and was colleagues with Alec Holland Swamp thing. So Woodrow seduces her and injects her with toxins. As an experiment, she becomes hospitalized and when she recovers, she quickly vacillates between kindness and rage.
Understandably, on the rage part, at least. The experiments also give her the ability to manipulate plants and her touch constraints for a fungus that gives her control over people. So she then becomes obsessed with Batman as he is one of the only people she cannot control due to his strong will.
Although she has overcome him on occasion and very early on in the post-crisis universe, we do see that there is a bit of. Romantic infatuation on Bruce’s part for for Dr. Isley, and we’re gonna get into that discussion of the relationship in a little bit. But Dr. Isley slash Poison Ivy is one of the few long lasting female characters who romantically has been able to pardon the pun, get under Bruce’s skin.
And so we will touch on that in just a little bit. So Wood Drew breaks Ivy out of Arkham Asylum to help him create mind controlling hemp to take over Gotham, but she sides with Batman, who decapitates Wood drew while she takes the money and runs away. This whole storyline was like a very special episode about drugs and in fact, there’s a, a two panel exchange between one of, I believe it was Tim Drake’s classmates and him.
About smoking weed and the, the kid was like, so guns are legal and cigarettes are legal, and alcohol is legal. So you can sell death, but you can’t sell a little bit of weed to people. What sense does that make? And the way it was written, like, we’re supposed to be on Tim’s side about all of this, like it’s very clearly written to make him out to be the the bad guy.
The whole time I’m reading this going Yeah, he’s got a point. It’s literally the poster image. It’s, it’s the front page image. If you go on TV trips and you look up, strawman has a point. It’s that two panel exchange between the guys and you’re saying, yeah, I, I kind of get where he’s, he’s coming from and at the end of the, so Batman and and Ivy are doing all this stuff and meanwhile all of Tim’s classmates are all smoking grass
and one of them ends up like seeing things and then Tim gives this impassioned speech in front of his classmates at the end that says basically, you know, all of the terms that we use for getting high imply that you’re, you’re giving up control, stone smashed, et cetera, et cetera. Well, I’m gonna stay in control because it makes me better and blah, blah, blah.
And then everyone clapped, you know, was that kind of thing. Like it was so ham fisted, I get it was the nineties and some anvils need to be dropped, but come on folks. Any who? So in no Man’s Land, which is a fantastic storyline, that’s about a year long after Gotham is hit by an earthquake and isolated from the rest of the United States, Ivy takes over Robinson Park and turns it into this Eden esque paradise.
She also takes several orphans under her wing, and she ends up striking a deal with Batman to maintain control over the area as long as she grows food for the rest of the population, which is where we start to see some more noble sides to Ivy, that she’s not just a strictly out and out villain slash eco terrorist, that she does have some parts of her that are not quite as misanthropic as she had been written prior to this.
And this is also when she first meets Harley Quinn, who had been left for dead by the Joker. So Ivy Nurses Harley back to Health, and the two become close friends, at least at that point in time. So after thinking that her powers were poisoning the children in her care, she asks Bruce Wayne to help reverse the powers and make her human.
She later regains the powers thanks to Hush, although the procedure temporarily kills her. But don’t worry, she, she does in fact get better. Hashtag because comics, so the new 52 reboots her origin. Once again, things get changed because DC can’t leave well enough alone. She was born with a skin condition that kept her isolated, her abusive father murdered her mother.
And then in college she sold pheromone pills that mind controlled users. She later joined Wayne Enterprises to study biochemistry that ended up getting fired because she was like, well, we can make pills that control people, right? And Bruce was like, no. Bad and you’re fired. But before she got fired, she was the victim of an accidental chemical spill that gave her the ability to control plant matter.
And I’m also convinced that chemical spills are the greatest source of power distribution in DC universe. That just seems to be a standard rote trope. But I mean, it worked for the Flash, it worked for Ivy. I’m sure it worked for lots of other characters that I can’t think of off the top of my head.
Doc, you’re more of the DC guy than I am. Any anybody else do that?
Doc Issues: I’ll go right back to Marvel. I’ll go with Daredevil. Dude, come on. It’s not as if all these things are just dc
Anthony: I’m not saying it’s just a DC thing. I’m just saying that whatever. I don’t know what I’m saying. Do I ever? No. So she creates these plant, human, hybrid children.
Unintentional. Well, they were intended to be created. Didn’t quite intend for them to go this way, that they grow at an accelerated rate and the children leave Ivy and go off on their own because they figure we don’t know how much time we’re going to have left, so we’re just gonna go out and explore the world.
She eventually settles in as an anti-hero focusing on environmental activism, and she most recently establishes a relationship with Harley Quinn, but the two of them break it off after Ivy reveals that she loves the planet more than any one person on it. And this is at least within the main DC cannon to say nothing of the various offshoots and else world stories.
And again, the fantastic and hilarious Harley Quinn animated TV series. And you should also go back and listen to our interview that we did with T Franklin, who is the writer of the comic adaptation and extension of the animated series. Speaking of, you know, hemp and mind control and weed and all that tea was during that episode and it was absolutely hilarious.
So you should go back and check those episodes out. So that’s where we are with Ivy. There’s been a lot of stories over the past, you know, 50 plus years involving Dr. Isley slash Poison Ivy. As I said, she is one of the most enduring members of the Rogue Gallery, and she is most often, I think and best used in a situation where the villain has a point where you can at least understand where she’s coming from because she is kind of like a well-intentioned extremist.
And we were just talking about this with na more, it’s very much that situation where you go, yeah, I don’t like exactly the way they’re going about it, but, ah, she’s kinda got a point. We do be messing up the planet and setting stuff on fire that that doesn’t need to be burning. So now we are going to get into the issues and the theme for the issues here is opportunities for natural growth.
Thank you to Doc who didn’t even wanna wait until the end of the episode to get his puns out. He was like, no, I’m, I’m jumping right off the bat here with this. So the thing that I’ve found in most Ivy stories is the greener she gets, the more misanthropic she gets. And the, what I mean by that is the more she focuses on the ecoterrorism side of her personality, the more she really chooses to openly.
I don’t wanna say, well, I’ll just flat out say, despise humanity with very limited exceptions, and we will get into those momentarily. But Doc, I’ll open up the floor with you first to get into this and then we’ll, we’ll flip it to Sarah for follow
Doc Issues: up.
Well, based on the history that you gave, how much would she be willing to trust others? She clearly comes across intelligent and she clearly comes across as someone who definitely can maintain her focus for things that are important to her. And her priorities may very well be different than those around her.
Some people see the little things in life that are important. She sees the big picture. She sees more than the big picture. She sees the potential. Destruction of everything that we know. And honestly, if you go by the sensationalism of social media, you could see where that would come from. Some people point out that, that, I’m not even picking aside here.
I’m just saying some people point out that if we don’t have certain things a certain way, then we are all going to die. We’re all going to be destroyed. And not only that, I think I’m above average, and therefore anybody that disagrees with me is not just wrong, but they’re stupid. It plays on the idea that, you have a positive self image because there’s no other way you could survive Some of the traumas that she went through, you know, that.
You’ve survived this long because of your own doing and not because of random chance, because that’s just what humans do. It’s just how we view life. And anybody challenging that is going back to one of the original threats that you had. So from that standpoint, where’s the flaw? Where’s the problem with the logic?
Well, if you can acknowledge that there’s no way that one human being is absolutely above average in everything. If you can acknowledge that previous events, the way you experience them are not the way that the rest of the world experiences them and develop that level of empathy. And if you recognize that the parts of your argument of why something is the way it is, and whether or not we are meant to survive, it is also instinctual.
And why we often make. Pretty poor long term decisions because we are focused on short term pain. Then maybe we get somewhere. If you’re talking about the way she was portrayed as a villain, then it’s not as if she was looking to have those discussions. But as she develops close inter personal singular relationships, she starts to extrapolate that no, maybe there are opportunities that other people could see things in different ways and there’s some commonalities and it doesn’t lead to as much cognitive distortion.
Anthony: Sarah, I’ll kick it over you then to to follow up and add.
Sara Boyadjis: Sure. For me, I think. A big part of her kind of personality and what goes into the decisions that she makes is her idea that the ends justify the means her kind of vision of the world and how she sees humanity in general and then destroying them.
So in order to save the environment, to save the world, she has to kill all the humans. And I think that when that starts on a smaller scale one or two turns into kind of like a power and kind of getting consumed by that power that it creates. And the delusion just keeps growing and growing. And I think that within that delusion and the control of power that she gets it just kind of overtook her until she was able to, again, it got brought back to earth a little bit with those interpersonal relationships, kind of what Doc was saying.
Sometimes when you’re alone and just are making decisions and doing things, it’s, it’s easier to kind of get lost in it and get lost in your vision and kind of get lost in your own world. But when somebody kind of gives you a voice of reason or a reason to do something else, she can kind of get brought back, which a lot of her kind of stories are helping, you know, the heroes or helping Harley Harley in in certain situations.
So yeah, that’s kind of how I see it. It’s really a kind of consumed by power and justify the means and then is able to kind of flip the switch in some instances when her interpersonal relationships come into play.
Anthony: Yeah, it’s very much a viewing the forest and ignoring the individual trees, and I’m using that pun very intentionally because.
It, it kind of comes across as almost, you see the story a lot with robots that are test with saving the world and they run through the full analysis. I mean, this was the whole point of age of Ultron was that, oh, in order to protect humanity, humans must die kind of deal. And so it becomes what is the focus, what is your end goal?
And then how compatible is that with the survival of people in order to make that happen? And we do kind of talk about that in the skit a little bit and know major spoilers here, but I don’t also think it would be much of a shock to say that, oh, we’re gonna discuss the, the ecological impacts of Ivy’s actions in the skit in a therapy session.
Spoiler alert. So so yeah, I think she is very much that type of character that gets so keyed in on the big picture that all of the details she views as almost trivial or meaningless when in actuality they’re very important to everybody. But as I said, that you know, by and large the greener she gets, the morero she gets.
But this segues into the second issue. There are really two specific carve outs and there’s storylines where there’s a handful of others, but there’s two main carve outs for this. And the first one is Bruce. Now her relationship with Bruce is based, at least historically as it’s been written, is much more as an obsession.
That you are the one that I cannot control, therefore, I must have you, because whether it’s you are worthy or it’s the splinter under your skin that you can’t quite get rid of. Either way that becomes her focus. And so she goes from not caring about humanity to still not caring about humanity, but for this one man.
And so we’ll start with Sarah first talking about what her, her singular focus on Bruce does and how it’s not exactly healthy relationship for either Bruce or Sam.
Sara Boyadjis: Sure. I think that the relationship. Obsession, you can definitely call it at first that she has with Bruce. I think there’s a bunch of different ways to kind of categorize it, but a part of me wants to believe that somebody that she knows, she can’t control.
She has a lot of like seduction abilities that are amplified by her powers. The fact that she’s not able to do that I think really speaks a lot to the obsession. Kind of like what you were saying, but it might not be necess, it could be for a bunch of different reasons. But one of the things that comes up in, in my head is that she’s not able to kind of taint this.
The relationship how he feels is, is real. So she’s not able to influence him. So his emotions, the way he acts around her, that’s, that’s very real. And I’m, I wonder if that’s something that really captivates her as well as just. The obsession with his will, kind of what he stands for, his general popularity.
And just kind of getting his attention, what that means to her to get his attention. And, and I feel like that’s why sometimes she helps him is for the attention aspect of it. And maybe she feels like he’s on her level in, in some type of, But either way, I think as the relationship continues it doesn’t, it’s not only one sided.
There’s definitely parts where he is infatuated by her. Not only her beauty and looks, but also her mind and actions. So I think that when we look at poison Ivy as a whole Batman does have a strong influence on her kind of bringing her back to humanity a bit creating an interpersonal relationship and giving her something to fixate on almost, that’s not killing all humans.
Doc Issues: Doc. Yeah, this is gonna sound a little bit like an echo chamber because I, I think that’s, that’s spot on. I think initially it had to do with novelty because. As with many parts of any person’s life, there are things that either you’re so good at or do so often that you have come to have limited emotional responses to the results of whatever it is that you’re doing.
And then something comes along where you’re doing the same action or performing the same task and something completely different happens that stimulates parts of your brain that you don’t always get stimulated if it’s just rote. So congratulations. You now have a new experience and you may have emotions tied to that depending on what else is going on that are going to really fixate that in your mind, in your memory.
You’re gonna know that moment when it first hit, and we naturally like to recreate that feeling if it’s a good feeling. And so you could imagine someone like poison ivy, whether it’s villain anti here or whatever. Being able to just control whoever she wants, however she wants, except for this one guy.
And now how do I get that feeling back? So yes, it can be superficial at first, but as time goes on, you’re going to find out more about that situation, that person, that scenario, because I try to tie it into whatever we’re doing in, in our lives, not just in comics. And that usually means you’re going to be more informed about that person.
You’re going to develop your own interpersonal relationship. And that in and of itself is going to have its own characteristics. That’s the combination of both of you, which can be a wonderful thing. But also depending on if the other person even wanted that to happen. With Batman, I’m sure he wanted to.
Make sure she wasn’t doing anything criminal. It’s obvious that he thinks that she has positive personality traits and, and characteristics that he would want to know more about. So it’s this mixed bag. Don’t kill people, but dang, you’re fascinating. So on his end, even though I doubt that was the original intention, he’s now pulled in in a way that he didn’t expect.
So once this all gets rolling, you now have to navigate what were our original goals again, because the, the new novelty of for both of them can actually overtake what they originally were looking to do. Bruce, as we’ve seen in so many cases, is really able to get back on track fairly quickly and frequent.
With poison ivy, it’s a little bit of the opposite. She, she gets pulled sometimes in directions that really go off the rails depending on, on how she’s written, of course, but also just what you would expect for someone who has such grandiose and, and lofty goals that clearly are going to have their adversaries, including the person that you’re now infatuated with.
So, yeah, it creates something that can be incredibly messy, but as we have seen over time especially with maturity, that it, it can be productive as well.
Anthony: Yeah. The one reference I’ve read in one of the stories is that she views herself as Titania and Batman is her Oberon. And as someone.
Performed in a high school production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. That one really just kind of spoke to me and, and stuck with me there. But she views him as the perfect man because she, at least early on, she idealizes him so much in her mind because he is a symbol of power and all of those things that she focuses on him because she says me and he and I together can rule Gotham, we can take over Gotham and then we can take over the world and therefore he is the one that I need to be with.
And it, it says a lot that even in spite of everything that has happened over the years with them, and whether or not there is. Any sort of mind control or fungal manipulation or what have you that Bruce still does have a small part of his heart that does still yearn for, for Pam, that does still want her to be the best version of herself because I think underneath all of that, he knows that she’s still, there is still a good person in there.
And that really does speak to who Bruce is as a person that he’s willing to see through everything that he’s willing to focus on. Rehabilitating her at one point, she’s an achim and, and he moves her, he has her moved to a room with a window where there’s sunlight, where she can see the plants. And, get that, that little bit of joy from that.
Because Bruce really does ultimately believe in the rehabilitation. And so I really think it does speak to the, the positivity of that relationship. And again, the, the power of Bruce’s character that he’s willing to say, I know you just tried to, turn all of Gotham City into a giant forest, but I still think you can be a good person somewhere underneath there.
And that’s really what gets him, that’s what lets him sort of have that compromise in that, that agreement with her during no man’s land, because she took the orphans under her care. She was looking after them, and he’s like, they’re still a part of her that is more person than plant at this point.
And that was kind of like a sign to Bruce that she can be trusted. At least somewhat to some extent with, with some of that stuff. And so I think that at least is a more, shall we say, healthy aspect to the relationship rather than just focusing on the obsession. But now speaking of healthy relationships let’s dive into issue number three and the relationship that she has with Harley.
And if you go back to episode seven, I think whatever it is, 5, 6, 7. Very, very early on in the show, one of our very first episodes was about Harley Quinn, and this was, you know, we’re going back four and a half years. This is before Har Ivy was considered canonical within DC and we were making the point then that Harley and Ivy as potential partners was the healthiest relationship either one of them has.
And the, the thing that I. Like about the Harley relationship with Ivy is whether we’re talking about the animated series and the the comic spinoff or even just the mainline DC universe is, it humanizes both of them because you have the eco terrorist and Ivy and you have the fun loving sociopath that is Harley, and yet you put them together and it brings out truly the best in both of them.
And so Doc will start with you on this one. What is it about the Har Ivy relationship that creates this kind of positive benefit for both of them?
Doc Issues: I’ll be interested to see if my answer is a complete repeat of what I said in the Harley episode. That’s not my intention, but
Anthony: I’ll be impressed if you can remember what you said four and a half years ago.
Doc Issues: Oh no, I, I, I’m saying very clearly I don’t, but
Anthony: Oh, okay.
Doc Issues: I’ve had this pattern in life where, and you know this, cause I’ve admitted it. Sometimes I’ll say things that stick with people and they’ll say it back to me later and I’m like, I don’t remember that. And then maybe a couple of years later, I’ll say, apparently the same thing again.
And they’re like, you’ve already said that. I’m like, okay, I don’t remember. It’s like, well, apparently that’s what I really do think . So anyway, to, to actually answer the, the point it is fascinating to me just in general as I tend to drift away from humanity myself sometimes, that people that are simply willing to accept the person in front of them for who they are and not focus so much on the differences or the.
Inequalities or the completely different backgrounds or whatever, and simply find the common nature of what they enjoy in their time together. That is fantastic groundwork for any relationship to build. So in this case, when we first discussed this, yes, it may have been rooted more in the fact that there was some criminal activity and things like that, but as you said, in this current background, you have someone that was vulnerable.
You have someone that is a victim that has had significant traumatic experiences and needs someone to help, even if they traditionally, because of their own coping mechanisms, would tend to flee or fight whoever was around them because they didn’t know who they could trust based on the previous trauma.
You have someone that has had her own traumatic experiences and as much as we’ve talked about it, using the term eco terrorism to put a more positive light on how it can be productive, she’s the voice of the voiceless. She is looking to preserve things that often are ignored in our society. And the idea that there’s a human that is around that now is starting to embody that just by pure chance.
In other words, not looking at someone who, when she saw it, cuz there have been ways that she’s written where if people were in bad situations, she felt they deserved it. She wasn’t doing that with Harley, she, she recognized that this is something where there’s an injustice, there’s something that’s unfair about this.
I may be able to make it right. And that was the focus. What can I do for this person that truly is. Going to be a benefit to them because I think it’s the right thing to do. And when someone, even if they’re not accustomed to do it, when someone does that and the other person acknowledges that that’s what’s going on and doesn’t try to run away from it, and actually embraces the idea that someone has demonstrated care, that is not going to be manipulative, which is ironic when you consider what Poison Ivy could do, that is amazing, that is truly something that we should all strive for.
The idea of, mutual altruism, of mutual respect for each other as human beings, and then the relationship itself. I know I mentioned with Batman, it’s really messy because there’s so many conflicting motivations. But in this case, when you get motivations that are really aligned from the start, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
So, Of course there’s still gonna be conflicts. That’s the point of existence, that’s the point of humanity. It’s working through those, working through those opportunities to develop even more than what you had to begin with. You can’t do that without struggle. You can’t do that without conflict.
It’s what we’re here for, in my opinion. So I’m just gonna give credit where credit is too, and you’ll hope that we get our royalty someday for when we really started talking about it before they, you know, went full, full steam ahead.
Anthony: If only, again, I think Warner Brothers is not really in the business of cutting checks these days.
I’m pretty sure they’re just looking to cut people and costs wherever they can. So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any sort of money coming from. That conglomerate, Sarah will we’ll flip it over to you then following up on that. Yeah, with that, with your thoughts.
Sara Boyadjis: I, I think that the conglomerate is an interesting, I guess I can start with there.
In terms of this relationship there from the beginning, the friends to lovers trope that we see also often there’s, it’s a little bit hard to interpret the romantic side of the relationship due to the hesitation from writers to really kind of put them in any type of long-term realistic relationship.
Like they’ve, it’s been described as like non monogan. And, other types of situations on and off. But when we look at the two of them together, just in a relationship in general like Doc said, they really do bring out the positives within each other. And I think that that really just stems from trust.
I think both of them lack trust in all aspects of, of their other relationships. There’s, manipulation and control and everything kind of going on with other relationships that the both of them have, but they are able to kind of trust and have that mutual respect like you talked about, which is really the foundation of any type of relationship, whether it be a friendship or then, you know, magnified into a romantic relationship.
And I think that that’s just kind of what happened with them and why so many people, ship them for lack of a better word because they just. They mesh well together, they play the positives off of each other. And I feel like people secretly want people to be more heroic, want those anti heroes, anti heroins to come out and when they’re together, they kind of bring that instead of bringing the chaoticness when they tend to be a part.
So I really think that just for, at least for Ivy, the fact that she has a stable interpersonal relationship has really allowed her to grow the more human aspect of herself rather than the plant aspect. And what we talked about in the beginning in terms of the greener she gets, the more misanthropic, she gets I think it’s the opposite happening when she’s around Harley.
And it’s really trust, respect, and love. And I think that that’s really where the romantic aspect of it started. It just started with those that grew into. To, to love.
Anthony: Yeah. I, I also wonder if it’s a situation where perhaps the misanthropy also became a bit of misandry based on some of the, the trauma that occurred throughout her life.
And it’s been said explicitly in the comics that she, despises humanity and really men, because I mean, in various versions of her, her backstory, at least very, very early on, she was poisoned by the man that she was supposedly trusting to help with the, the thieving.
Then the whole situation with Dr. Woodrow, he seduced her and then poisoned her and turned her into an experiment. Then in the new 52, her father was abusive. To her mother and to her. And so it’s kind of explicitly stated that in many cases she has been abused by men. And so I’m also wondering if, at least from the writer’s perspective, there’s this underlying notion that men are not to be trusted, but maybe, you know, she could find trust in, in a woman.
And again, this is, you know, me speaking as, and a hetero dude here. So I don’t know if that has any real world implications, but at least from my perspective of reading the, the history of the trauma that she’s undergone canonically throughout the various versions of the backstory and also what’s being written in the comics, again, mostly by dudes, but then I’m wondering if that is also perhaps played a part in it to some extent.
Well, I, I’ll,
Doc Issues: I’ll jump in with that just to. To say, I, I’m not going to pretend to get in the mind of a writer. That’s up to them how they wanna write a character. So I, I can’t really speak to that. I can speak to my direct clinical experience, though. I have had patients that made it very clear, I had to make sure I had a female staff member with me because they did not feel comfortable talking with a male based on the experiences that they had before.
And so I can 100% point out that for some people that does happen. And I do my best then, because I’ll be honest, at certain times, we don’t have other female therapists or psychiatrists available. I have to. Do the best I can. I’m working in a hospital setting, so it’s not as if I could say, oh, yeah, well, I won’t see that patient or whatever.
I can’t do that. So I do my best to accommodate for the patient’s own health and wellbeing, what, what their requests are within what’s available. And just point out that my, job is to, to give you the dignity and respect that you feel like you haven’t received before. And, it also has to do with body language, making sure that I’m not coming across as authoritarian just creating the type of environment that lets the person know whatever it is.
I mean, in this case we’re talking gender, but it could, it could be any other thing that the person themselves has identified as their number one warning, the number one trigger for their response that. It doesn’t have to apply to every, every example of that instance. So yeah, I can definitely say that it happens.
And, usually it’s not something that can’t be handled in a mature way. And, if it’s clear that it’s a disturb to them at that level, then, we do our best to, to give that distance.
Anthony: I also just wanted to clarify, by the way, I’m not in implying or, or indicating that trauma or that, that, that sexual preferences are altered by, by trauma or that, oh, she was abused by men and they turned her lesbian.
I just wanted to be clear on that. I wasn’t trying to make that implication. I was just pointing out that, , that’s based on some of the ways and the stories in which it’s been written, that that may have been at least. You know, if not wholesale, perhaps a factor in at least some of the, the determinations that were were made and the decisions that were made.
But I realized after I had said it and I was like, Ooh, that kind of sounded like I was saying, oh, she was abused by men, so therefore that’s what made her let no, no that didn’t, not exactly where I wanted to go with that. So Sara, did you have anything else you wanted to tack on to that or?
Sara Boyadjis: Sure. I think that to just kind of address what you are saying in terms of writing and stylistically it is definitely a stereotype that gay slash lesbian women must have been maltreated by men to have turned to women. It’s a huge stereotype, so I would understand if writers kind of tend to write into those stereotypes.
And I think that when we take a look at their relationship, because it didn’t start out that way I almost just feel like, because. Harley as a woman doesn’t necessarily mean that’s why she started to trust her. But the caring kind of nature and, and, and I almost wanna say it’s on Ivy’s end, the protectiveness that she felt with Harley and her relationship with the Joker obviously, and that very abusive relationship, Ivy coming in as that protective person for Harley, and then how that kind of grew trust for Harley to trust her and all of like the back and forth kind of going on.
I really do think that that is what led to the majority of trust. And obviously, you know, just the nature of women and gender obviously come into play. But I think that that’s really where it started and continued
Anthony: to grow. Awesome. Awesome. All right, so we are going to pause here and take a break.
We’re gonna plug a couple of our shows and and then when we get back, we will get into treatment. So stick around.
And we’re back. So treatment starting as we do within universe.
So in universe, treatment for poison Ivy doc will start with you before we’ll see what Sarah, if she has any suggestions.
Doc Issues: Hmm. So. You have someone that is so plant based and has all of these things that she focuses on for the world and really would rather not have anything to do with humans and, and all of that. Boy, this is a little tough because she’s already kind of done what I think would, in theory be beneficial for her, but in the old days, there was a time where we did have much more of an agrarian culture.
And I’m not trying to make it sound like she needs to create like this super elaborate farm with lots and lots of people and all that stuff, but I think that there is a communal aspect to the idea of service that people need to have more respect for what she considers to be important. I don’t want it to make it something like farmers tending crops because that’s just as demeaning, especially in her eyes.
But just the idea of, I don’t know if there’s a way that she could, get the people that she considers to be important to her. I mean, she’s had the conversations with Batman, things like that. I don’t know if it, if it would be like a bio dome. I don’t know if it would, be like somewhere in the rainforest and, and therefore not the same societal pressures and urbanization, but just.
Create this open environment where there’s a lot less pressure to feel like you have to eliminate everything around you that’s considered a threat. And more focusing on the fact that you already have a lot of what you want. And is there a way that you can get more people to understand and integrate those things into society?
It’s just, it’s the same idea. Just put completely on the other side, and that is incredibly grandiose on my end. I don’t think that would happen for an instant, but hey, we’re already talking comics. Might as well go. Big
Anthony: go. Could go home, . So Sarah, what would your treatment suggestions be for IV in universe?
Operating under the assumption that you have access to any and all magical, mythical, super heroic, whatever powers you need, whatever setups you need to establish, whatever it is you need, whatever tools you require are at your disposal. And go.
Sara Boyadjis: I think that the in universe is a bit tough for, for her. I, I mean, it’s tough because I think that she is just kind of in need of trusting relationships, and people to care about what she cares about and getting and learning how to get that.
Out in a positive communication instead of, you know, turning to destruction and realizing that although humans can be the problem on one side, it doesn’t mean that they have to be the problem in all aspects. I love the idea of just giving her a perfect world in universe of where she can just kind of grow her garden.
And I believe that in one aspect, she like grew the Garden of Eden and then the earthquake happened. So almost kind of replicating maybe what she had in that aspect. And, you know, teaching her some positive communication and helping her process her trauma. It’s that’s similar to what I would say out of universe, but I really do think that it’s, she’s not anywhere near beyond saving.
So just kind of putting her in an environment. Where I love your idea, doc. Let’s, let’s just do
Doc Issues: That is the first time anybody’s ever said that.
Anthony: it doesn’t mean the ego boost .
Sara Boyadjis: Everybody needs an ego boost. I, I can, I don’t. I can, I
Doc Issues: can can’t. I can’t. Anybody That’s anybody that knows me as self-deprecating, as I, as I am. Like, I do appreciate that. But to shorten what I said, cuz it was so so hand fisted the world is crap. Cultivate your garden.
That’s really it. If, if she feels like the world is that bad, then fine. Here’s your area. It’s clear that you can do great things. Just integrate some other people at a small amount at a time and learn to develop that trust with those people and see that it can be, you know, something that you grow.
Just the same way you grow a garden, you can grow it with humanity.
Anthony: Well, before we get into the out of universe, I do wanna point out that she did actually do that very early on in, in universe that she found a desert island in the Caribbean. There’s no other people there. She creates this Eden Lake Paradise.
She’s all by herself and she’s completely alone and she’s happy. Unfortunately, a weapons company says, oh, nobody’s here. Let’s test our weapons out. Fire bombs the entire island. Ivy returns to Gotham pissed off and says, I can’t leave humanity because they will find a way to destroy things. And so I can’t leave until I’ve established the world that I want to live in. So she tried that. It didn’t work. So that’s when she decides I’m going to purify Gotham. And that’s one of the things that was actually a plot point in the most recent season of the Harley Quinn series, is that Ivy decided that she was going to go off and remake Gotham in the green image.
And she was willing to eliminate everyone and anyone to do it. And that kind of put her in the conflict with everyone, including Harley, who at least within this continuity, is making much more of a heroic turn to say nothing of Joker becoming mayor and running under a openly socialist campaign.
I’m not like a socialist. I am a socialist. Yeah, loving Step-Dad, mayor Joker is something I never thought I’d want to see and now I need it. Now. It is my favorite version of the Joker or at least up there with Mark Camel. So out of universe then let’s take away the powers, but we’re still dealing with someone who has undergone copious amounts of trauma.
The misanthropy is still there, still very concerned about the environment, feels that mankind is destroying natural resources again, not undeservedly. So, and what would you say, to a real person in your therapy office, and we’re gonna start with Sarah on this one.
Sara Boyadjis: In real life. I think that kind of some of the things that you said processing trauma and recognizing all of those aspects helping understand why is the environment so important to her? What about it really kind of drives her in real life without powers a little bit of a God complex that we would need to kind of work through.
Thinking that, or kind of like the Thanos pop mindset of, of the ends just by the means, like I mentioned in the beginning and talking through all of that as well as I don’t think it’s, you can overlook the human sexuality piece of it. When we’re looking at in universe, we don’t really know how.
And universe kind of treats the LGBTQ population as much as we do in the real world. So recognizing that relationship and per relationships in general. So I think that that would be also a piece that would come up. So yeah, so definitely first processing trauma. Second looking into The environment and why is it so important?
And obviously she is a doctor, so I’m assuming that she has the best knowledge and how can she utilize her, her degree? And maybe it goes into how does she put that out into the world in terms of like, is it more philanthropy? What can she do to channel some of that in a positive way instead of a negative way?
How can we do a positive twist on it? Just because humans create this negative environment are basically killing the planet and that’s what she believes. How can we kind of flip it? So like, how can you help? What is something that you can do about it in a more positive way instead of taking it so angrily and how can we make it a little bit more positive?
And then just taking a look at trusting relationships positive communication and, creating a support system doesn’t really have too, too many supports. So those would definitely be the out of universe treatments that I can think of.
Doc Issues: Bam, I mean, that’s . That’s it. That’s, that’s really what it comes down to.
The one piece that I’ll add because of my inherent bias as a psychiatrist is just how far does that got complex go? There is a subtle difference between the idea that your overwhelming experience of the world has led you to believe that there are drastic steps that need to be taken versus. I literally think that I have the ability to control way more than what one person in a truly a non position of power.
In other words, is this a matter of saying I’m going to use my degree and do what I can within my realm? Or is it that somehow I think that I have now overrun governments and things like that, and if it’s outside of the realm of reality, and that’s where potential medication intervention can come in. Other than that, I think that’s absolutely spot on.
The only other thing I, I might add to that is just exactly what is the person’s current environment. Are we talking about someone that has already had impulses and acted on the idea that they need to do something right now, and let’s say even in a positive way, let’s say that they had attended protests, things like that.
Great. That’s fine. At least in our, in our culture, I’m talking obvious bias of US-centric culture where protests happen that way without automatic imprisonment and, and other repercussions provided that they’re nonviolent. Or has it been an idea that a person is destroying property, acting out, getting into physical fights or, or altercations because they feel like they have to act now and they think other people don’t understand them, and it’s leading to those types of severe consequences.
That’s the only other thing that I would say from a safety standpoint, just making sure that the person is in the right environment for themselves. That they feel safe enough that they can tolerate these discussions without further impulses. So those are the only two things I have to add.
Sara Boyadjis: Yeah, and it also just made me think of something else. And discussing control. What does she have control over versus what she doesn’t. She cannot control what other humans do but she can control what she does. So doing the positive things that make her happy. And, if it means growing her own garden, putting her effort into that, instead of putting so much energy into other people, like put the energy into yourself, like you’ll definitely be more happy.
Anthony: I love that. Love that. Really tying in with the theme of personal growth. Obviously it’s a pun, but it’s a truism for a reason. And so I, I definitely approve of that. I love all the ideas that that we’ve got here. So now with the help of Sarah, we are going to see what happens when we get poison ivy. A doctor issues his couch.
Doc Issues: Hello, Dr. Isley. I’m Dr.
Sara Boyadjis: CHUs. Thanks for remembering. I have a
Doc Issues: doctorate. My experience tells me that no matter what’s happened to a person, their training sticks with them. You know, credentials come and go.
Sara Boyadjis: Sounds like the season, spring and fall, winter and summer. They tend to pair up that way, don’t you think? I know it’s common to think of the full cycle, but that’s not how nature works for things to grow.
Doc Issues: Some things offset. Sure. Now what can I do for you as
Sara Boyadjis: a person? Probably little but as fertilizer.
Maybe you’re up just suff. .
Doc Issues: And there were those famous thony barbs. I’ve heard so much about. Course I had it. I heard the opposite. You wait for someone to put their guard down and then you manipulate them
Sara Boyadjis: or trap ’em. You’re bringing up ancient history. Those roots have withed. I’m in this world for much bigger purposes.
Doc Issues: Well, maybe I can help with your mindset and goals keep you emotionally focused. Right?
Sara Boyadjis: Emotion doesn’t matter. When you have a world to save your experience with others should have taught you that.
Doc Issues: Too many to name.
Sara Boyadjis: You only need one. You know who I’m talking about.
Doc Issues: There’s an easy answer and there’s a hard answer. Which do you want first?
Sara Boyadjis: I’m not a child waiting for guessing games, but if you must know, always handle the thorns first. So the delicate pedals bloom
Doc Issues: Then
I’m not talking about Harley,
Sara Boyadjis: but she sent me here. She said, you put up with all sorts of nonsense that drives the ACOM therapist bonkers. And she doesn’t trust people ever. Neither do I. So who,
Doc Issues: I can’t give their name because it’s not mine to give.
Sara Boyadjis: I knew it. You’re a stooge. You don’t care about her or me or the planet, do you? You just wanna be another one of his lap dogs, fat children that missed the forest and the trees. It was a mistake coming here.
Doc Issues: Wait, wait, wait.
You didn’t hear the easy part.
Sara Boyadjis: Make it quick.
Doc Issues: I agree that you can be a part of saving the world with the right tools.
Sara Boyadjis: You realize you put me through unnecessary anguish by getting your priorities mixed up, right?
Doc Issues: I apologize. Okay. I want this to work, but I’m not gonna shy away from your blind spots. What would it take for you to trust me?
Sara Boyadjis: Tell me about those tools of yours.
Doc Issues: Well, this may not be what you wanna hear, but there are some medications that
Sara Boyadjis: I’m immune. I’m immune to toxins, control pheromones, and learn the essence of life itself. And you want to talk about medication. Do you know the harm big pharma has done to humankind, let alone the plant kingdom? How dare you.
Doc Issues: Please, please. It’s not what you think. Oh boy. Ever, ever heard of
St. Johns Ward?
Sara Boyadjis: Of course. It’s a common natural supplement for those with depression
Doc Issues: and psy.
Sara Boyadjis: Hmm. The good old magic mushrooms had to keep Harley from trying to bury herself into the ground. She called herself Mother Earth, not something to play with, .
Doc Issues: How about kratom?
Sara Boyadjis: Are you insane? Nobody should touch that stuff without knowing the psychological effects. Even if there is an anecdotal evidence for pain, where are you going with this?
Doc Issues: That plants are the essence of all medicine, and we know it. You know it. I wouldn’t dare prescribe any of the things mentioned without more study because it’s too dangerous without more information.
But that doesn’t mean people who care, I mean, really care, aren’t trying to find.
Sara Boyadjis: After everything I’ve done in my life, you think a review board would allow me to participate in such research? I’m banned for life.
Doc Issues: And when has that mattered for you? Before
Sara Boyadjis: you’d be risking your license on someone who is a lost cause.
Doc Issues: No, I’m not saying you should do the research. I’m saying you should be a part of the research.
Sara Boyadjis: Oh, so you want me to be a Guinea pig? You’re evil. You know that you’re no better than any of the fossil industry moguls that s strip the planet bear.
You would have me die in the vine rather than produce fruit for the world. .
Doc Issues: No, no, no, no. You don’t get it. I’m trusting you with your gift, your immune.
Sara Boyadjis: My body can process things that others can’t filter out the danger and only leave what’s left. If there’s a way to extract it without turning me into green slurry and a food processor.
Ewww. But yes,
Doc Issues: you could be the source of a natural treatment process that eliminates the stigma of medication management, plus it improves the safety and helps with your, let’s just say, mood liability.
Sara Boyadjis: And you could do all that for me.
Doc Issues: Actually, no.
Sara Boyadjis: What?
Doc Issues: Wait, wait. Again, . My point is that your own version of the world can include those types of goals in the long run, but we can’t do it yet, and we sure can’t do it alone. You have an opportunity to prove me wrong, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle. I have approved safe treatments that can help you have a grand scheme for how the planet should be.
Can we meet somewhere in the middle?
Sara Boyadjis: You’re weird. You know that
Doc Issues: compared to ?
Sara Boyadjis: True, perhaps we can work on cross beating pollinators with aerosol melatonin. The possibilities are endless.
Doc Issues: An apple a day could truly keep the doctor away, but well, most of them,
Sara Boyadjis: Doctor? Doctor? Oh dear. I forgot to tell him to use a filtration system for his office. Those pheromones will give him some incredibly odd dreams. I’ll have to keep a note of that since most people just become mindless drones. Perhaps there’s something unique in his genetic makeup or blood chemistry,
Doc Issues: lithium in lilacs who could say no.
Sara Boyadjis: Oh boy. And I still didn’t get the easy or hard answers out of him on the bright side. These ramblings make for fascinating research. I will say these sessions are worth my time, at least for a little bit.
Anthony: Well, thank you Sarah for for playing Ivy. I know it’s a little different than some of the things that you’re used to doing but we appreciate you being game for this. I don’t remember if I told you that was part of the episode or part of the recording session when I asked you to do this, but I appreciate you joining with the enthusiasm and saying, yeah, sure. Okay, I’ll do it. So that’s, that’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you again for, for being here and, and doing that with us.
Sara Boyadjis: Yeah, of course. You definitely did not mention it but it was.
Anthony: Well, you know, I gotta keep you on your toes at least a little bit. Yeah. No
Sara Boyadjis: prep, just, just going right into it.
Anthony: Yeah, just, just dive to be honest.
Doc Issues: That pretty much I was gonna say that pretty much fits with the way we do the show, so it’s
Anthony: okay. Yeah. By and large, a lot of it is fly by the seat of the pants and stuff.
Sara Boyadjis: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. So thanks for having me.
Anthony: Yeah. So recommended reading for Poison Ivy is Fruit of the Earth, which is a subsection of the no Man’s land, larger arc cuz No man land.
No man’s land is about a year. Fruit of the Earth is the portion that involves ivy. It’s the part where she takes over the park where she takes the orphans under her control. There’s a lot of stuff with Clayface that I didn’t really get into and that’s what leads her and Batman to sort of team up, so to speak to take down Clayface.
And that’s what ultimately leads to him saying, okay, you can keep the park as long as you give us food for it, you can do your thing over here. So, go back and, and find those stories. They’re all on DC Universe. Infinite, as far as I was able to find, I wasn’t able to find her secret Origins number 36 that the, the Neil Gaman revamp.
But everything else I’ve largely been able to find on DC Universe, infinite. So go and check that out. So, upcoming episodes for the next couple weeks we’ve got more McTaggart, gladiator of the Imperial Guard and Raven. So we are all over the place. A little Marvel, little DC here. We got some Teen Titan, some X-Men stuff.
All over the map here. All over as we are want to do in this. So as always, you can find all of our episodes on our website, capes and the cap.com. You can also find us over as part of the Gonna Geek Network. Gonna geek network.com. One of these days we will be live streaming on the geeks.live website, but it’s just hasn’t really worked out with the scheduling so far.
But you can go over to gonnaa geek network.com and find all the other fantastic, wonderful, hilarious, entertaining, and geeky shows on the network like Legends of Shield. Intellectual, like play comics, so many others. We’re very proud to be a member of the Gonna Geek Network. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok capes on the couch.
You can shoot us an email at capes on the couch gmail.com. And if you really like what you hear and you want to support the show, you can head on over to patreon.com/capes on the couch and subscribe. For small fees per month, you can unlock additional content, early access, uncensored material. Do want to give a massive thank you to all of our patrons and apologize that the last two episodes have not gone up with nearly as much early access as you’re usually accustomed to.
Unfortunately, life got in the way and it was a situation where, at least for the last episode, I was literally editing until about 1130 Tuesday night for the episode to release Wednesday morning. So, I know I try to give you at least a couple of days early access here. You got it. Maybe seven hours before the before main draft.
So I’m gonna do my level best to get you some, some of that early access a lot more early and accessible since you are obviously paying for it. So apologies to our patrons. And doc, as always I know you’re sitting here waiting.
Doc Issues: Emotional pain may be the root of many problems, but personal development can be the seed that allows for happiness
Anthony: and that advice is evergreen.
Dare I say, just like Ivy. So thank you again to Sarah, Boyadjis licensed therapist. If you are in the New Jersey area, check her out. She’s fantastic. Good peoples. And if you were at a Giants game and you see her go say hi. Unless you are like me and Rudy for the Panthers in which case you probably will say hi.
And I hope you have a miserable rest of the day. , . It’s, it’s all love over here. Cause it’s all love. All love. So for, for Sarah and for doctor issues, I’m Anthony Sytko. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.
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